East Sydney residents have been asked to wear masks indoors and avoid gathering after the city’s third COVID-19 case became infected at Vaucluse’s Belle Cafe on Sunday June 13, between 10.20-11.45am. New exposure sites have also been added in Bondi Junction, Castle Hill, North Ryde and Leichhardt.
The ABC explains that NSW Police are also investigating whether a limousine driver at the centre of cluster breached testing and mask health orders, while, further south, The Age reports that a nurse worked while infectious at both a coronavirus ward at Epping Private Hospital and the nearby Northern Hospital.
Melbourne residents can now have two guests over after restrictions eased overnight, and no new locally-acquired cases were reported yesterday.
And at the federal level, the Morrison government has accepted medical advice recommending Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for people under the age of 60. This is a decision which, the Herald Sun explains, is set to further slow down the vaccine rollout, and has already seen people over 50 cancel their second AstraZeneca shots (despite experts clarifying blood clots are even more rare for the second shot).
WITNESS K PLEADS GUILTY TO WHISTLEBLOWING
According to The Age, former spy Witness K has pleaded guilty to conspiring to reveal classified information over Australia’s 2004 bugging of East Timor’s cabinet rooms, conducted by the Howard government amid sensitive oil and gas treaty negotiations for Woodside, a political donor/future employer of Alexander Downer.
Lawyers are pushing for the former Australian Secret Intelligence Service intelligence officer to receive no jail time nor criminal conviction, arguing he has already faced years of alienation, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress following a December 2013 raid on his house.
The Morrison government is also pursuing Witness K’s lawyer, Bernard Collaery, who as Crikey reported in May is challenging a court order that would require large parts of his trial to be held in secret.
In other legal news, Guardian Australia reports that Assistant Defence Minister and former SAS captain Andrew Hastie is set to give evidence for the respondent newspapers in Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation case.
Meanwhile, News Corp has failed in an attempt to access redacted documents that saw a federal court block barrister Sue Chrysanthou from acting for Christian Porter.
PS: In one of those fleeting good news stories, Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa have been reunited with long-time friends from Biloela in Perth, following 15 months of detention on Christmas Island.
Finally, CNN reports that the US Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge from Republican-led states and the previous Trump administration to the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”, on the basis that challengers had no legal right to bring the case.
Democrats are also reportedly eyeing a US$6 trillion package focusing on infrastructure, climate change, healthcare, social services and more that would be passed through reconciliation — a budgetary process that bypasses Republican opposition and requires a simple majority — in the final month the party has that option.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Just because you’re 67, and you’re of retirement age, which I am proud to say I am 67 years of age, and I turned 67 yesterday…
[point of order]: Misrepresentation: Senator Watt said I circulated this on my birthday, my birthday was last month. This was not circulated on my birthday, so it’s basically misrepresentation, telling a lie.
[on being reminded what she had said earlier]: So yesterday was not my birthday, so you are wrong, I’m sure you have realised that. My birthday — and I said — in it — my birthday was last month.
Capping off another dark, complicated week in Australian politics, it’s just nice to see something as simple as the One Nation leader publicly forgetting when her birthday is (while trying and failing to lift the cap for extra super contributions to an age she just happened to turn ~sometime~ in the past month).
“Friendlyjordies’ interest in John Barilaro has been a lucrative one for the YouTuber. While the videos he’s made about the deputy premier haven’t reached the peaks of popularity like some of his other content, his focus has been rewarded in other ways.
“Shanks released his ‘bruz’ video about John Barilaro on September 14, 2020. With 675,000 views, it’s more popular than an average video for him but doesn’t crack his top 10. (His top three videos are, in order: a Trump impersonation; a video about Clive Palmer; and a parody of the television series RBT.)”
Police overreach or political influence? Either way, the ‘Fixated Persons’ unit got it wrong arresting Friendlyjordies’ producer
“The real point of interest is the fact that the police who turned up at Langker’s home, arrested him and carted him off to spend a night in the cells before being granted bail, were plain-clothes members of the FPIU driving an unmarked car.
“What is it about Langker’s actions that could, on any basis, bring him within the definition of a ‘fixated person’? If anyone is ‘fixated’ on John Barilaro, it’s Shanks, albeit only in the sense that he clearly thinks Barilaro is a fair target for vituperative criticism and allegations of wrongdoing in the execution of his office of high public trust. You know, free press.”
“While the debate about house prices is stuck in a holding pattern in Australia (with governments too scared to do anything too radical for fear of upsetting homeowners, and regulators averse to dealing with a problem that’s political in origin), the Kiwis just get on with it.
“In a statement from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) yesterday, the Kiwi central bank added debt-to-income levels (DTI) to its macro-prudential ‘toolkit’ with the agreement of the minister of finance.”
THE CRIKEY PAYWALL IS DOWN
Here’s the latest from the Crikey vault, enjoy them while they’re unlocked!
“Christian Porter, in strongly denying allegations of a 1988 rape, is the last figure in this government who can seriously rely on the rule of law in his defence. His actions as attorney-general have trashed it.
“Porter’s actions in his vexatious prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery — a prosecution motivated by a desire to punish those who revealed the Howard government’s shameful spying on Timor-Leste to help political donor Woodside — have been a complete abrogation of the rule of law. Porter has sought to keep the prosecution secret, in blatant disregard for the fundamental rule of law tenet of transparency, with the aim of covering up the actions of John Howard, Alexander Downer and DFAT and ASIS officials.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Indigenous wages were stolen and they must be repaid ($) — Nyunggai Warren Mundine (The Australian): “So Indigenous people have no choice but to seek justice through the courts. A successful class action was brought in Queensland, and recently Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory filed a class action against the Australian government for lost income between 1933 and 1978. These claimants can’t afford the legal costs of a claim. Their only avenue is litigation funders, which back legal claims people could never bring as individuals. In return for taking all the financial risk (including of having to pay the defendant’s costs) and investing millions in research and claim preparation, funders share in the award or settlement (if any). But the Coalition government is planning regulatory changes to restrict or eliminate class actions.”
Grattan on Friday: Will bolshie Nationals or Joe Biden have more sway with Morrison on 2050 target? — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “In the mouth of a politician, the word ‘preferably’ is like that handy phrase “the government plans to …” (or “has no plans to …”). It is cheap coinage. It certainly wouldn’t buy much in Glasgow. But it is useful and it may be the coinage Morrison will need to continue to deal in. Remember we are talking here about political reality, not what is the best policy, which clearly would be to sign up to the target. We’ve thought Morrison would want to shift before Glasgow so Australia would have a more credible position internationally, respond to the pressure from the US and Britain, and minimise isolation. That’s apart from the electoral implications surrounding an issue many voters feel strongly about.”
Incredibly, Joe Biden’s Russia policy is reasonable — Branko Marcetic (Jacobin): “With the full-scale media meltdown of 2018’s Helsinki summit at the top of everyone’s minds, the highly anticipated first meeting between US president Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin has finally come and gone. Just as in 2018, commentators scrambled to overanalyze banalities and play body language expert, only this time in the opposite direction from three years ago, heaping praise on Biden for supposedly dominating Putin and reclaiming America’s collective, metaphorical masculinity. America is, after all, back.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Criminologist Dr Anastasia Dukova will discuss her book To Preserve and Protect: Policing Colonial Brisbane in an Avid Reader webinar.
The Wheeler Centre and the Refugee Council of Australia will launch Refugee Week 2021 with online panel event “On Unity: Refugees, Community and Connection”, featuring Gordon Koang, Asher Hirsch, Peter Doyle, Shahad Bahnan,and Mukhles Habash.